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Hearing Set on Inglewood Election Suit

July 23, 1987|SEBASTIAN ROTELLA | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County Superior Court Asst. Presiding Judge Richard P. Byrne has scheduled a pretrial hearing on Aug. 3 for a lawsuit contesting an Inglewood City Council election last month.

In the suit, candidate Garland Hardeman charges that opponent Ervin (Tony) Thomas committed numerous improprieties in the June 16 election, including forgery of absentee ballot signatures and coercing voters. The Los Angeles district attorney's office is reviewing the allegations.

Thomas could not be reached for comment on the suit, but he has denied any wrongdoing.

Absentee votes favored Thomas by a 5-1 margin and gave him a nine-vote victory on election eve. A June 24 recount increased Thomas' edge for a final vote total of 626-610.

The suit, filed last week, alleges election law violations involving at least 25 votes and asks that they be thrown out.

"I feel very confident," said Hardeman, who filed the suit himself after preparing it with the help of a Los Angeles legal aid clinic. "We've had some very good statements from people. There will be justice."

Hardeman said he has sworn statements from voters who said Thomas, Mayor Edward Vincent and Thomas' campaign workers punched absentee ballots for them and delivered absentee ballots to polling places. Vincent also has denied the charges.

The suit consists of a preliminary statement contesting the election and names only Thomas as a defendant. But Hardeman said Vincent's name appears in documentation he will submit to back up vote challenges.

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